The new season of “The Nutcracker” kicked off Friday, December 13th, presented by The Phoenix Ballet and the Master Ballet Academy. The Orpheum is hosting the event and I couldn’t think of a more perfect venue for this classic holiday production.
The nearly 100-year-old theatre boasts some of the most beautiful architecture in downtown Phoenix with its Spanish Baroque style that has such a presence and energy to it. From the moment you walk into the front doors you are greeted with beautifully decorated Christmas trees and nutcrackers available for purchase, including a four foot tall classic red and white nutcracker that makes for the perfect photo op!
The theatre is impressive and grand without feeling uncomfortable in a “don’t bring your kids here” kind of way. Food and drinks from the concessions located on the lower level are welcome into the theater, and that’s always a way to keep the little ones happy during a long show. Most of the people present during our 2 pm matinee were families with young children, and although I did not bring my 3-year-old this year, I think I will definitely include her next year.
The first act was 50 minutes in length followed by a 20-minute intermission. The bathrooms are located downstairs and although they are large, there can be quite a line if you don’t go directly there during the break. The second act began promptly and the show lasted another 40 minutes. I would recommend children age 5 and older for this production, as it was very quiet in the theatre for the duration of the show.
The ballet itself was thoroughly entertaining from beginning to end. The dancers were very professional and we were extremely impressed with all of them, even the very young ones did a fantastic job. Tchaikovsky’s famous score music was pre-recorded, and although I didn’t feel it took away from the performance, I would like to see it performed by a live orchestra at some point.
Where the production really stood out was the costumes and set design. The detail to each one was breathtaking, especially the Snow Queen adorned in Swarovski crystals. A favorite part of the ballet for us was the portion near the end where Spanish, Chinese, Russian, and Arabian cultures were represented in separate dance numbers. We were especially impressed by the backflips performed by the Arabian Cavaliers during their dance number.
While keeping to the classic story, there were also some added modern elements. The stiff ‘robotic’ dance moves by the dolls at the beginning of the show were especially impressive and there was some humor sprinkled throughout, especially from the mice and from Uncle Drosselmeyer, who briefly breaks into “the floss” and then finished with a “dab”, which brought giggles to my 7-year-old.
As a first-timer to “The Nutcracker,” I feel that the Phoenix Ballet really did a wonderful job of telling a story that was easy to follow, with moving choreography, set designs that pulled you directly into each scene – including a very realistic snowfall, and costumes that were simply stunning! I can easily see this becoming a new holiday tradition in our home.
The production runs from Friday, December 13th through Monday, December 23rd at The Orpheum Theatre located at 203 West Adams in downtown Phoenix. There are multiple shows each day and tickets start at $25. Purchase them at https://www.phoenixballet.org/